Does Working Long Hours Cause Obesity? The Case of the Reduction in South Korea’s Standard Workweek
24 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2017 Last revised: 30 Oct 2017
Date Written: September 26, 2017
Despite its significant policy implications, not much is known about the causal impact of working long hours on obesity. The available evidence is mixed due to biases associated with omitted variables, reverse causality, and sample selection. Owing in part to this lack of conclusive evidence, the standard workweek—which sets the maximum weekly work hours for full-time salaried workers and, therefore, tends to limit their overtime work—has received little attention as a policy tool for tackling obesity. Between 2004 and 2011, the Korean government reduced the standard workweek from 44 to 40 hours for larger establishments, followed by smaller ones. We examine how this four-hour reduction affected body mass index (BMI) and obesity among male workers.
Keywords: BMI, Obesity, Legal workweek, Hours of work, Overtime work, Korea
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